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Frequently Asked Questions

I noticed each year you change or delete the names on the family tree. I thought once you were on the tree you were always on the tree. Can you tell me why you do this?

To the traditional Chinese kung fu teacher, the family tree has great meaning. Each master has his or her standards yet by their masters. So the family tree has somewhat different meanings from school to school, or teacher to teacher. But generally the old masters took the family tree very seriously.

Just as the name indicates, it is a "Family Tree" with ascent on the word, family. A family is defined as: a group of people united by certain convictions or a common affiliation, or a group of persons of common ancestry, but the most common definition is: a group of people consisting of a father and mother and children.

There are various kinds of family trees. Some teachers will list every student he ever had, and other teacher will only list those who he feels still hold the standards set fourth by his predecessors. Some family thees are very short and others are very long and complex. Usually the ancients masters had few students listed on their personal family tree. I have seen some with as little as one or two. However, the common traditional tree is around ten to twenty students. There are also many master who never formally set down their own family tree, the reason for this vary from teacher to teacher.

I can best speak for our family when I say our reasons are based on the proper practice of Shao-lin Ethics (Wu De) that determines who will remain on the tree or be stricken from the tree.

Because there is constant change going on in a family tree, few masters want to be bothered with the constant maintenance needed to maintain the trees correctness. We update ours one time per year around the Chinese New Year. By this time much has changed students have come and gone, some are added and some removed for reasons of ethics.

The reason a teacher would bother with all this work is to preserve his art for the next generation of students. It was because of this practice that our arts have been passed down intact as the masters intended them to be. This is why I work so hard to maintain our tree, so when I pass from this world people can look at this list and see who are the ones that hold the secrets of our style. It is the voice of the teacher calling from the grave, these are ones you can find my teachings.

A family tree is a good source of information for those looking for a traditional art form. In short, the tree is like your birth certificate. It shows that you are a member of that family in good standing.

I hope this helps you better understand this most important matter.

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